So tomorrow is it my turn for a first day. Over the last 8 years it has been my boys turn for first days….at playgroup, at nursery, at school. And tomorrow it is my turn. Not just a first day in my new old job, but a first day in my new role. I am crossing to the other side. But when I say that, I suppose I know I am not crossing, because I am not moving away from what I have been for the last 7 years, merely adding to what I am going to become. I am stepping out of my stay at home mum role to a working mum role. And I can’t wait. And over the years if someone had told me I would be at this stage again, I would have not believed them.
Now before I get into this, I am not sure I am comfortable with the terms ‘Stay at home Mum’ and ‘Working Mum’. For starters, all Mums are working, very hard, to do the best for their children. A Stay at home Mum, is often not at home, because if she has small children, she is most likely in the park, at a playgroup, play-date, baby class or doctors appointment, or if she has school age children, she really won’t be at home because she will be doing everything other than being at home because she is ‘FREEEEE’. A Working Mum has a paid job, but then still works on the other job when she comes home. But I am not sure what other terms could be used to describe us Mums and it is just all too controversial so I will leave it there.
When I worked in my 20’s, I did because that is what we all do, and we have a mortgage and bills to pay. But I always hoped that one day I would find a husband and have babies, and my work days may be numbered. So I got married, and worked up until I had my first child at 30, had a year off then went back to work on a 3 days a week basis. I found this particularly hard. Firstly I found the managing of two roles hard. The 3 days a week I was at work, I really wanted to be at home with my baby. Then the 2 days at home I felt like I was not really giving it all to being a mum as I was out of the routine of being a full on mum, and would worry about the work I had to do when I went back to the work. And I suppose what was more likely was that secondly, I hoped to have baby number 2, and then be at home again.
However, as we know, baby number 2 became babies numbers 2, 3 and 4, and at my first scan, I was thrilled when I was advised to give up work as soon as possible. That was it. I had reached that point where I felt it was acceptable to not work anymore. I could become a stay at home mum. And given the fact I was to have 4 children under 2, any discussions of me returning to work became silly not just in terms of child care costs, but the logistics just made our heads go crazy.
So 6 years ago, when my babies were nearly one, and toddler boy was 2 years and 8 months, I formally resigned. And I was happy with the decision that my job was now to bring up these boys.
However, now it turns out that after 2 years of school days and realising the boys don’t need me in the holidays as much and that they want more, I have come full circle and the ‘Oh I would NEVER go back to work again’ has actually turned into ‘Oh my god I just HAVE to get that job again’.
And I have now worked out why. Why when I never wanted to, am I desperate to now, and the reason is clear. It is because of the challenge. It is because of the need to do something. To push yourself. To keep going.
I always said if we had had 2 children, I probably would have gone back to work, then hopefully had another baby, then maybe stopped work. Maybe we would have had another. But I know this. I would have carried on until I felt challenged. Having 4 under 2 challenged me. It made me feel alive. I remember in the early days having my shower in the morning, working out what order I was going to do things that day, which jobs to do when, which batches of food I was going to do during afternoon naps, setting myself little targets. True I am slightly crazy and ran my house like a ship, with a process for everything. But that’s just the way I am. I have never been one to sit down.
These days I usually have my shower after a gym class, between meeting up with friends for a coffee, house work and rushing around the supermarkets on my price comparison frenzy missions. So now I need something else to get that sense of achievement from. And it is time for that to come in the way of my career again.
Over the years, when the boys have been ‘messing around’ (to put it politely), I look at them with disappointment thinking ‘Is this the best I have done?’, ‘Is this what I have given up my career for?’, because if so, maybe I shouldn’t have bothered…. I honestly thought I had given up my career and had written myself off. That I had made a choice. But it seems that some people think I hadn’t. So if you like me, think you may have had a few years too many off, well maybe you haven’t. During the last 6 years, I have kept up to date with things, kept in contact with people, to keep me in the know. And these days there is a big drive to get women who have had maybe more time at home with their families than was previously acceptable, to get us back into work. Because at the end of the day, we still have those skills we had before we had our families, and now we have a whole host more. The speed at which I can have a conversation and get to the point is amazing, after years of not knowing how long I have to get my words out. My multi-tasking skills are extraordinary. I have a new found confidence, which I realised during recent interviews. And I am able to prioritise what is important, and hopefully can be better at leaving certain things in the office rather than bringing them into the home.
So I am not pretending it is not going to be hard. I am not naive in thinking I will just be able to slip back into it. And once again, this is something that needs to be taken on as a team. Just like it was when I had three babies in one go. Luckily my husband sees that we have equal rights to work and equal responsibilities for our boys. That when I say I don’t want to be hanging around in the kitchen waiting for him to come home any more, that sometimes I want to be the second one home, that he understands. And I want my boys to see that it is possible for their Mummy to have two roles too. I want them to accept that their future wives or partners will also have the right to have different roles over their lives, just as much as it is their right to too.
So here we go. Off for the first week (well 4 days, steady). But do you know what I am looking forward to most… To having that spring in my step again on a Friday because it is the end of the week. To collapsing on the sofa on a Friday night shattered, because I haven’t had that for 2 or 3 years. For having that Sunday night feeling, to give the week some definition…and for having that challenge, for getting a sense of achievement …..
So as a Stay at home mum, it’s over and out.